The IFEMA LAB will work on the development of the 5G technology to be applied in the fields of tourism and trade fairs, whose developments and functionalities will be shown in FITUR 2018
Research will be carried out into lines of innovation in new services for tourism and trade fair venues supported by the potential of new Cloud, Big Data, AI and 5G technologies to transform the experience of those who use IFEMA before, during and after their participation in the trade fair
The project aims to contribute to making IFEMA an international benchmark in terms of trade fairs, where both exhibitors and visitors are offered an experience that combines and increases their real-life experience with virtual elements
The possibilities for innovation in terms of digitalization will include the personalized planning of the visit, the combination of AR/VR elements to exhibit contents and for online interaction on several levels, intelligent guiding of visitors in real time, and constant business intelligence information
The digitalization and technological innovation plan that will be carried out by IFEMA in the short and mid-term, for which innovation possibilities are already being identified, will be given an enormous boost thanks to the alliance agreed between 5TONIC, an organization created by TELEFÓNICA and IMDEA Networks Institute and of which ERICSSON is also a member. The agreement establishes a framework for the creation at the Madrid Fair (IFEMA) venue of the first digital innovation laboratory for the application of 5G to the tourism and trade fair sector, whose progress will be shown at FITUR 2018.
The choice of IFEMA to develop this innovative project, which focuses on the identification, incubation and launching of cases with high added value enabled by 5G in different vertical markets, is due to its status as one of the main trade fair operators and its leading role in the tourism sector through the International Tourism Fair known as FITUR, which will facilitate research into different lines of innovation in the development of new services for tourism and trade fairs supported by Cloud, Big Data, AI and 5G technologies to transform the experience of those who use IFEMA, before, during and after their participation in the trade fair, without any limitations in terms of space.
In this context, the IFEMA LAB aims to make IFEMA an international benchmark in terms of trade fairs, where both exhibitors and visitors are offered an experience that combines and increases their real-life experience with virtual elements that will optimize the fulfillment of their objectives, both in terms of information, discussion and knowledge and in terms of networking, as well as making business deals and even transactions.
In order to identify those services related to tourism and trade fairs that offer greater value to visitors to IFEMA, and to citizens in, IFEMA LAB will collaborate with the Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School. Furthermore, in relation to 5G, this project will be supported by the equipment used in 5TONIC. In terms of the infrastructures associated with IFEMA LAB in order be able to demonstrate services, these will depend on the nature of the services that are selected.
For this purpose, on the morning of 15 June, IFEMA held a meeting in which the agreement was signed by the President of Telefónica I+D and the President of 5TONIC, David del Val; the Director of IMDEA Networks and the Vice-President of 5TONIC, Arturo Azcorra; the Director of the Ericsson R+D Centre in Madrid, Luisa Muñoz, and the General Director of IFEMA, Eduardo López-Puertas.
Although 5G technology is currently in an experimental phase and has only been applied in prototype mode in certain vertical markets, the 5TONIC Laboratory, which is a pioneer in Europe, is working on a research process which is aimed at putting into practice its general application in different industrial sectors and the viability of 5G products, which are due to be massively implemented from 2021 onwards. Indeed, there are currently some large global groups that are focused on the definition of use cases and solutions based on the digital transformation that is enabled by 5G technologies, and their effect on Manufacturing, the Automotive Industry and Transport in general, as well as on Health and Safety, among other questions.
Potential application scenarios in IFEMA – FITUR
Regarding trade fair activity, the sector chosen has been tourism due to its importance as an economic driver and also because of Spain’s leading role in tourism management, which is why the application scenario chosen has been FITUR 2018, one of the most important tourism fairs in the world. The enormous number of professionals (244,972) who exhibit at and visit this trade fair every year and their different needs in terms of connectivity, as well as their adoption of new technologies applied to tourism, mean that IFEMA and FITUR are fundamental agents in the ecosystem of business tourism and provide a high intensity field of action. Therefore, they are highly suitable to show some of the 5G functionalities that will make this trade fair a benchmark in terms of innovation.
The preliminary analysis conducted by IFEMA with 5TONIC has discovered some important lines of innovation. Given the variety of events from multiple sectors that are hosted and organized by IFEMA throughout the year, there are many possibilities for innovation enabled by digitalization, and they may also contain some common fundamental elements, such as the personalized planning of the visit, the combination of AR/VR elements, both for the exhibition of contents and for online interaction on several levels, intelligent guiding of visitors in real time, and constant business intelligence information on the success of the activities in course and, of course, the guaranteeing of the greatest possible level of safety in all of the spaces at IFEMA.
5TONIC, the first 5G test and applications laboratory
With the arrival of 5G, we are facing a change which is greater than that posed by previous generations of communications networks. 5G will not arrive as a disruption of 4G. Its functions will be incorporated little by little, and it will not become massive before 2021 or 2022. Nevertheless, it is critical to know which of these new functionalities will provide most value and will allow the greatest amount of digital transformation of productive sectors and of society in general.
In this context, in 2016 TELEFÓNICA and the IMDEA Networks research centre launched 5TONIC, which aimed to be the first laboratory opened to test 5G technology and applications. The objective was to incorporate into this initiative other organizations and technological companies that are world leaders in their field and that can provide the most innovative technologies. Following these criteria, the following have joined 5TONIC: the Carlos III University, Ericsson, Intel, Commscope, Artesyn, Cohere and Red Hat.
Moreover, 5TONIC was founded with the aim of experimenting with the possible use of these new technologies in those vertical markets which are fundamental for the economic and social development of our country. The first three sectors were emergency services, the Industry 4.0 and tourism, with a special emphasis on mass events and trade fairs. This is why two world references such as IFEMA and especially FITUR were chosen for this project, which was led by Ericsson and was carried out in collaboration with other members of 5TONIC and the IE Business School.
Collaborating in the development of the new generation of mobile communications
According to Ignacio Berberana, Senior Research Engineer at 5TONIC Open 5G Lab, IMDEA Networks Institute, “collaboration with IFEMA means a great opportunity and a great challenge in terms of the objective of collaborating in the development of the new generation of mobile communications. The chance to be able to implement use cases of 5G technology for tourism, which is one of the most important sectors in the Spanish economy, and the challenge of doing this in an especially demanding environment from a technical point of view in the case of IFEMA”. What characterizes the large-scale trade fairs and events organized by IFEMA is the great number of people who attend, most of whom are professionals with very specific connectivity needs, along with the fact that this environment is almost continuously changing. It is an environment in which a permanent, wired solution is not viable, and nor is one based on the use of current mobile technologies.
During the next few months, said Ignacio Berberana, “we hope that, thanks to this agreement, new applications will be developed both for the tourism sector in general and the large-scale trade fair sector. Thanks to the co-creation process followed, we are convinced that these solutions are going to have a real application and are going to benefit users. These solutions will be validated using the experimental 5G structure of 5TONIC, so that they will be ready both for pre-commercial tests and for when the commercial 5G networks comes fully into force. We are also convinced that these solutions will be pioneering on a world level, given Spain’s technological leadership in this sector”. Therefore, IMDEA Networks will actively collaborate in the process, providing its knowledge of 5G technological components, which are fundamental to achieve the objectives sought, such as network virtualization technologies or localization technologies, to give just two examples, so that these applications can be considered viable both from a technical and an economical point of view.
Innovative models of Smart Destination
José Antonio López, the President and Managing Director of ERICSSON ESPAÑA, stressed that “Spain is a world leader in tourism, both in terms of the number of tourists it receives and tourist spending. Moreover, this year the Davos World Economic Forum has considered Spain to be a world leader in competiveness in the tourism sector and recognized our cultural diversity, as well as our good infrastructures. Nevertheless, other experts have pointed out that a great effort still needs to be made to adopt new digital technologies.”
He also stated that “the agreement between 5TONIC, and the leading companies that make it up such as ERICSSON and IFEMA, will allow us to explore and make viable new use cases thanks to the advanced properties of 5G technology, leading to innovative models of Smart Destination that make it possible to enrich or create new experiences for the whole ecosystem of the sector.”
IFEMA, leading innovation in the trade fair sector
“For IFEMA –said its General Director, Eduardo López-Puertas- participating in this innovative 5TONIC project means not only the recognition of the importance of trade fairs for the economy, but also of their potential to boost new technological advances in terms of connectivity and the extension of resources to optimize the business and the commercial interrelation objectives provided by trade fairs. The fact that IFEMA has been chosen for the implementation of the IFEMA LAB research and development project and the fact that FITUR is the benchmark trade fair in the tourism sector in which to carry out this project is going to mean a great boost for our objective of leading technological innovation in the trade fair sector”.